This is the second blog post in the series. Click back to the index if you are lost.
games-ED current products can be described as resource management games. They are played in a classroom environment on a single computer by the whole class. The games narrative is structured around a relevant context such as a community – they are situated. The class is spit into sub-teams that have to collaborate to achieve common goals such as improving the community. Sustainaville is one such game.
The games have been used in schools, college and universities and are built on tried and tested adult learning products.
Using the Game in a Lesson
The game plays over a number of rounds (simulated years). The rounds are sub-divided into three phases (plan > do > review). The rounds progressively speed up, as the learners get to grips with the task at hand.
The class is divided into sub-teams. In Sustainaville, the teams are: Local Authority; Education, Learning & Skills; Health; Third Sector; Housing; Utilities; Transport and Enterprise Partnership. Each sub-team is presented with a mission outlining their objectives. Ultimately, the sub-teams work as one team with one score.
It is important to note that the game based lesson sits within a games based learning pedagogy. In essence, pre work, taught material, follow on exercises and assessment wrap around the game based lesson. As Francis notes (2006), games need to sit within broader games based pedagogy in order that a game might be effectively used in classroom contexts.
Phases of the Game Rounds (Plan > Do > Review)
Each round of Sustainville has three phases: plan > do > review:
- Investigate the main graphic, which shows a virtual community with problems such as air and water pollution, congestion, poor housing, unemployment, poor health and rising waste.
- Investigate report screen that help learners to make decisions. The reports show cause and effect and will enable the learner to see the impact their decisions.
- Learners consider cross linkages with other sub-teams and understand that they can achieve more if they work together.
- Having looked at their reports and developed a plan, the sub-teams can invest their budgets by making purchase decisions.
- Negotiate with other teams and choose win-wins to create a sustainable community.
- After all the budget decisions have been made, the sub-teams present their decisions to the whole group explaining what they have bought and why.
- The purchases are input into the game by the teacher.
- The round is updated to the next year.
- The learners consider the impact of their decisions (improvements made to the community):
- The main graphic changes: wind turbines, less pollution, recycling facilities and more housing.
- The sub-team reports change.
- The score shows how the teams have performed as a whole group. The educator gives feedback on their performance, and the learners can reflect on the decisions they have made.
- The learners now need to plan what they want to achieve in round 2.